This book presents a cultural history of modern Iran from the
point of view of Shiraz, a city famous for its poetry and its
traditions of scholarship. Exploring the relationship among
history, poetry and politics, the book analyses how Shiraz came to
be defined as the country's cultural capital, and explains how
Iranians have used the concept of culture as a way of thinking
about themselves, their past and their relationship with the rest
of the world.
Weaving together a theoretical approach with extensive
ethnographic research, the book suggests a model to integrate broad
concerns with a nuanced analysis of Iran's cultural traditions and
practices. The author's interdisciplinary approach sheds light on
how contemporary Iranians relate to classical Persian poetry; on
the relationship between expressive forms and the political
imagination; and on the different ways teachers, professors,
cultural managers, poets and scholars think and work. He describes
how history and poetry are the two dominant modes to talk about the
past, present and future of the town and demonstrates that the
question of knowledge is crucial to an understanding of the
political and existential dimensions of life in Iran today.
This book will be a major contribution to the current effort to
move away from nationalist views of Iranian history and culture,
and as such will be of great interest to scholars of cultural
anthropology, history, Middle Eastern studies and Iranian
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